skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Evaluating the environmental sustainability of biomass-based energy strategy: Using an impact matrix framework

Abstract

A roadmap for a more sustainable energy strategy is complex, as its development interacts critically with the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. This paper applied an impact matrix method to evaluate the environmental sustainability and to identify the desirable policy objectives of biomass-based energy strategy for the case of Alberta. A matrix with the sustainability domains on one axis and areas of environmental impact on the other was presented to evaluate the nexus effect of policy objectives and bioenergy production. As per to our analysis, economic diversification, technological innovation, and resource conservation came up as the desirable policy objectives of sustainable development for Alberta because they demonstrated environmental benefits in all environmental impact categories, namely climate change, human health, and ecosystem. On the other hand, human health and ecosystem impacts were identified as trade-offs when the policy objectives for sustainability were energy security, job creation, and climate change. Thus, bioenergy can mitigate climate change but may impact human health and ecosystem which then in turn can become issues of concern. Energy strategies may result in shifting of risks from one environmental impact category to another, and from one sustainable domain to another if the technical and policy-relatedmore » issues are not identified.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta 2500, University Drive NW, T2N 1N4 (Canada)
  2. (Canada)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22589257
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 60; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2016 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; BIOMASS; CLIMATES; CLIMATIC CHANGE; ECOSYSTEMS; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY; PUBLIC HEALTH; SUSTAINABILITY; SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Citation Formats

Weldu, Yemane W., E-mail: ywweldem@ucalgary.ca, Assefa, Getachew, and Athena Chair in Life Cycle Assessment in Design. Evaluating the environmental sustainability of biomass-based energy strategy: Using an impact matrix framework. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/J.EIAR.2016.05.005.
Weldu, Yemane W., E-mail: ywweldem@ucalgary.ca, Assefa, Getachew, & Athena Chair in Life Cycle Assessment in Design. Evaluating the environmental sustainability of biomass-based energy strategy: Using an impact matrix framework. United States. doi:10.1016/J.EIAR.2016.05.005.
Weldu, Yemane W., E-mail: ywweldem@ucalgary.ca, Assefa, Getachew, and Athena Chair in Life Cycle Assessment in Design. Thu . "Evaluating the environmental sustainability of biomass-based energy strategy: Using an impact matrix framework". United States. doi:10.1016/J.EIAR.2016.05.005.
@article{osti_22589257,
title = {Evaluating the environmental sustainability of biomass-based energy strategy: Using an impact matrix framework},
author = {Weldu, Yemane W., E-mail: ywweldem@ucalgary.ca and Assefa, Getachew and Athena Chair in Life Cycle Assessment in Design},
abstractNote = {A roadmap for a more sustainable energy strategy is complex, as its development interacts critically with the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. This paper applied an impact matrix method to evaluate the environmental sustainability and to identify the desirable policy objectives of biomass-based energy strategy for the case of Alberta. A matrix with the sustainability domains on one axis and areas of environmental impact on the other was presented to evaluate the nexus effect of policy objectives and bioenergy production. As per to our analysis, economic diversification, technological innovation, and resource conservation came up as the desirable policy objectives of sustainable development for Alberta because they demonstrated environmental benefits in all environmental impact categories, namely climate change, human health, and ecosystem. On the other hand, human health and ecosystem impacts were identified as trade-offs when the policy objectives for sustainability were energy security, job creation, and climate change. Thus, bioenergy can mitigate climate change but may impact human health and ecosystem which then in turn can become issues of concern. Energy strategies may result in shifting of risks from one environmental impact category to another, and from one sustainable domain to another if the technical and policy-related issues are not identified.},
doi = {10.1016/J.EIAR.2016.05.005},
journal = {Environmental Impact Assessment Review},
number = ,
volume = 60,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Sep 15 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Thu Sep 15 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}
  • A completely renewable baseload electricity generation system is proposed by combining wind energy, compressed air energy storage, and biomass gasification. This system can eliminate problems associated with wind intermittency and provide a source of electrical energy functionally equivalent to a large fossil or nuclear power plant. Compressed air energy storage (CAES) can be economically deployed in the Midwestern US, an area with significant low-cost wind resources. CAES systems require a combustible fuel, typically natural gas, which results in fuel price risk and greenhouse gas emissions. Replacing natural gas with synfuel derived from biomass gasification eliminates the use of fossil fuels,more » virtually eliminating net CO{sub 2} emissions from the system. In addition, by deriving energy completely from farm sources, this type of system may reduce some opposition to long distance transmission lines in rural areas, which may be an obstacle to large-scale wind deployment.« less
  • Evaluating sustainability from EIA-based assessments has been problematic at best. This is due to the use of reductionist and qualitative approaches which is dependent upon the perspective of the assessor(s). Therefore, a more rigorous and holistic approach is required to evaluate sustainability in a more consistent way. In this paper, a matrix-based methodology in order to assess the indicated level and nature of sustainability for any project, policy, indicators, legislation, regulation, or other framework is described. The Geocybernetic Assessment Matrix (GAM) is designed to evaluate the level and nature of sustainability or unsustainability occurring in respect the fundamental and complexmore » geocybernetic paradigms. The GAM method is described in detail in respect to the theory behind it and the methodology. The GAM is then demonstrated using an appropriate case study — Part 1 of the UK Climate Change Act (2008) concerning carbon budgets and targets. The results indicate that the Part 1 of Act may not achieve the desired goals in contributing towards sustainable development through the stated mechanisms for carbon budgets and targets. The paper then discusses the broader context of the GAM with respect to the core themes evident in the development and application of the GAM of: sustainability science; sustainability assessment; application value of the GAM; and future research and development. - Highlights: • A new assessment tool called the Geocybernetic Assessment Matrix (GAM) described. • GAM evaluates the level and nature of sustainability or unsustainability. • GAM demonstrated by application to Part 1 of the UK Climate Change Act (CCA). • Part 1 of CCA has significant flaws in achieving a sustainable pathway. • GAM offers a potentially useful tool for quantitatively evaluating sustainability.« less
  • The Texas Panhandle is regarded as the "Cattle Feeding Capital of the World", producing 42% of the fed beef cattle in the United States within a 200-mile radius of Amarillo generating more than 5 million tons of feedlot manure /year. Apart from feedlots, the Bosque River Region in Erath County, just north of Waco, Texas with about 110,000 dairy cattle in over 250 dairies, produces 1.8 million tons of manure biomass (excreted plus bedding) per year. While the feedlot manure has been used extensively for irrigated and dry land crop production, most dairies, as well as other concentrated animal feedingmore » operations (CAFO's), the dairy farms utilize large lagoon areas to store wet animal biomass. Water runoff from these lagoons has been held responsible for the increased concentration of phosphorus and other contaminates in the Bosque River which drains into Lake Waco—the primary source of potable water for Waco's 108,500 people. The concentrated animal feeding operations may lead to land, water, and air pollution if waste handling systems and storage and treatment structures are not properly managed. Manure-based biomass (MBB) has the potential to be a source of green energy at large coal-fired power plants and on smaller-scale combustion systems at or near confined animal feeding operations. Although MBB particularly cattle biomass (CB) is a low quality fuel with an inferior heat value compared to coal and other fossil fuels, the concentration of it at large animal feeding operations can make it a viable source of fuel. The overall objective of this interdisciplinary proposal is to develop environmentally benign technologies to convert low-value inventories of dairy and beef cattle biomass into renewable energy. Current research expands the suite of technologies by which cattle biomass (CB: manure, and premature mortalities) could serve as a renewable alternative to fossil fuel. The work falls into two broad categories of research and development. Category 1 – Renewable Energy Conversion. This category addressed mostly in volume I involves developing. Thermo-chemical conversion technologies including cofiring with coal, reburn to reduce nitrogen oxide (NO, N2O, NOx, etc.) and Hg emissions and gasification to produce low-BTU gas for on-site power production in order to extract energy from waste streams or renewable resources. Category 2 – Biomass Resource Technology. This category, addressed mostly in Volume II, deals with the efficient and cost-effective use of CB as a renewable energy source (e.g. through and via aqueous-phase, anaerobic digestion or biological gasification). The investigators formed an industrial advisory panel consisting fuel producers (feedlots and dairy farms) and fuel users (utilities), periodically met with them, and presented the research results; apart from serving as dissemination forum, the PIs used their critique to red-direct the research within the scope of the tasks. The final report for the 5 to 7 year project performed by an interdisciplinary team of 9 professors is arranged in three volumes: Vol. I (edited by Kalyan Annamalai) addressing thermo-chemical conversion and direct combustion under Category 1 and Vol. II and Vol. III ( edited by J M Sweeten) addressing biomass resource Technology under Category 2. Various tasks and sub-tasks addressed in Volume I were performed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering (a part of TEES; see Volume I), while other tasks and sub-tasks addressed in Volume II and IIII were conducted by Texas AgriLife Research at Amarillo; the TAMU Biological & Agricultural Engineering Department (BAEN) College Station; and West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) (Volumes II and III). The three volume report covers the following results: fuel properties of low ash and high ash CB (particularly DB) and MB (mortality biomass and coals, non-intrusive visible infrared (NVIR) spectroscopy techniques for ash determination, dairy energy use surveys at 14 dairies in Texas and California, cofiring of low quality CB with high quality coal, emission results and ash fouling behavior, using CB as reburn fuel for NOx and Hg reduction, gasification of fuels to produce low quality gases, modeling of reburn, pilot scale test results, synthesis of engineering characterization, geographical mapping, a transportation cost study to determine potential handling and transportation systems for co-firing with coal at regional coal-fired power plants, software analyses for the design of off-site manure, pre-processing and storage systems for a typical dairy farm or beef cattle feedlot, recursive production functions/systems models for both cattle feedlots, systems modeling, stocks and flows of energy involved in the CAFO system, feedback from an Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) to the investigators on project direction and task emphasis and economics of using CB as cofiring and reburn fuel.« less
  • The Texas Panhandle is regarded as the 'Cattle Feeding Capital of the World', producing 42% of the fed beef cattle in the United States within a 200-mile radius of Amarillo generating more than 5 million tons of feedlot manure/year. Apart from feedlots, the Bosque River Region in Erath County, just north of Waco, Texas with about 110,000 dairy cattle in over 250 dairies, produces 1.8 million tons of manure biomass (excreted plus bedding) per year. While the feedlot manure has been used extensively for irrigated and dry land crop production, most dairies, as well as other concentrated animal feeding operationsmore » (CAFO's), the dairy farms utilize large lagoon areas to store wet animal biomass. Water runoff from these lagoons has been held responsible for the increased concentration of phosphorus and other contaminates in the Bosque River which drains into Lake Waco - the primary source of potable water for Waco's 108,500 people. The concentrated animal feeding operations may lead to land, water, and air pollution if waste handling systems and storage and treatment structures are not properly managed. Manure-based biomass (MBB) has the potential to be a source of green energy at large coal-fired power plants and on smaller-scale combustion systems at or near confined animal feeding operations. Although MBB particularly cattle biomass (CB) is a low quality fuel with an inferior heat value compared to coal and other fossil fuels, the concentration of it at large animal feeding operations can make it a viable source of fuel. The overall objective of this interdisciplinary proposal is to develop environmentally benign technologies to convert low-value inventories of dairy and beef cattle biomass into renewable energy. Current research expands the suite of technologies by which cattle biomass (CB: manure, and premature mortalities) could serve as a renewable alternative to fossil fuel. The work falls into two broad categories of research and development. Category 1 - Renewable Energy Conversion. This category addressed mostly in volume I involves developing. Thermo-chemical conversion technologies including cofiring with coal, reburn to reduce nitrogen oxide (NO, N2O, NOx, etc.) and Hg emissions and gasification to produce low-BTU gas for on-site power production in order to extract energy from waste streams or renewable resources. Category 2 - Biomass Resource Technology. This category, addressed mostly in Volume II, deals with the efficient and cost-effective use of CB as a renewable energy source (e.g. through and via aqueous-phase, anaerobic digestion or biological gasification). The investigators formed an industrial advisory panel consisting fuel producers (feedlots and dairy farms) and fuel users (utilities), periodically met with them, and presented the research results; apart from serving as dissemination forum, the PIs used their critique to red-direct the research within the scope of the tasks. The final report for the 5 to 7 year project performed by an interdisciplinary team of 9 professors is arranged in three volumes: Vol. I (edited by Kalyan Annamalai) addressing thermo-chemical conversion and direct combustion under Category 1 and Vol. II and Vol. III ( edited by J M Sweeten) addressing biomass resource Technology under Category 2. Various tasks and sub-tasks addressed in Volume I were performed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering (a part of TEES; see Volume I), while other tasks and sub-tasks addressed in Volume II and IIII were conducted by Texas AgriLife Research at Amarillo; the TAMU Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department (BAEN) College Station; and West Texas A and M University (WTAMU) (Volumes II and III). The three volume report covers the following results: fuel properties of low ash and high ash CB (particularly DB) and MB (mortality biomass) and coals, non-intrusive visible infrared (NVIR) spectroscopy techniques for ash determination, dairy energy use surveys at 14 dairies in Texas and California, cofiring of low quality CB with high quality coal, emission results and ash fouling behavior, using CB as reburn fuel for NOx and Hg reduction, gasification of fuels to produce low quality gases, modeling of reburn, pilot scale test results, synthesis of engineering characterization, geographical mapping, a transportation cost study to determine potential handling and transportation systems for co-firing with coal at regional coal-fired power plants, software analyses for the design of off-site manure, pre-processing and storage systems for a typical dairy farm or beef cattle feedlot, recursive production functions/systems models for both cattle feedlots, systems modeling, stocks and flows of energy involved in the CAFO system, feedback from an Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) to the investigators on project direction and task emphasis and economics of using CB as cofiring and reburn fuel.« less
  • The Texas Panhandle is regarded as the 'Cattle Feeding Capital of the World', producing 42% of the fed beef cattle in the United States within a 200-mile radius of Amarillo generating more than 5 million tons of feedlot manure/year. Apart from feedlots, the Bosque River Region in Erath County, just north of Waco, Texas with about 110,000 dairy cattle in over 250 dairies, produces 1.8 million tons of manure biomass (excreted plus bedding) per year. While the feedlot manure has been used extensively for irrigated and dry land crop production, most dairies, as well as other concentrated animal feeding operationsmore » (CAFO's), the dairy farms utilize large lagoon areas to store wet animal biomass. Water runoff from these lagoons has been held responsible for the increased concentration of phosphorus and other contaminates in the Bosque River which drains into Lake Waco - the primary source of potable water for Waco's 108,500 people. The concentrated animal feeding operations may lead to land, water, and air pollution if waste handling systems and storage and treatment structures are not properly managed. Manure-based biomass (MBB) has the potential to be a source of green energy at large coal-fired power plants and on smaller-scale combustion systems at or near confined animal feeding operations. Although MBB particularly cattle biomass (CB) is a low quality fuel with an inferior heat value compared to coal and other fossil fuels, the concentration of it at large animal feeding operations can make it a viable source of fuel. The overall objective of this interdisciplinary proposal is to develop environmentally benign technologies to convert low-value inventories of dairy and beef cattle biomass into renewable energy. Current research expands the suite of technologies by which cattle biomass (CB: manure, and premature mortalities) could serve as a renewable alternative to fossil fuel. The work falls into two broad categories of research and development. Category 1 - Renewable Energy Conversion. This category addressed mostly in volume I involves developing. Thermo-chemical conversion technologies including cofiring with coal, reburn to reduce nitrogen oxide (NO, N2O, NOx, etc.) and Hg emissions and gasification to produce low-BTU gas for on-site power production in order to extract energy from waste streams or renewable resources. Category 2 - Biomass Resource Technology. This category, addressed mostly in Volume II, deals with the efficient and cost-effective use of CB as a renewable energy source (e.g. through and via aqueous-phase, anaerobic digestion or biological gasification). The investigators formed an industrial advisory panel consisting fuel producers (feedlots and dairy farms) and fuel users (utilities), periodically met with them, and presented the research results; apart from serving as dissemination forum, the PIs used their critique to red-direct the research within the scope of the tasks. The final report for the 5 to 7 year project performed by an interdisciplinary team of 9 professors is arranged in three volumes: Vol. I (edited by Kalyan Annamalai) addressing thermo-chemical conversion and direct combustion under Category 1 and Vol. II and Vol. III ( edited by J M Sweeten) addressing biomass resource Technology under Category 2. Various tasks and sub-tasks addressed in Volume I were performed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering (a part of TEES; see Volume I), while other tasks and sub-tasks addressed in Volume II and IIII were conducted by Texas AgriLife Research at Amarillo; the TAMU Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department (BAEN) College Station; and West Texas A and M University (WTAMU) (Volumes II and III). The three volume report covers the following results: fuel properties of low ash and high ash CB (particularly DB) and MB (mortality biomass) and coals, non-intrusive visible infrared (NVIR) spectroscopy techniques for ash determination, dairy energy use surveys at 14 dairies in Texas and California, cofiring of low quality CB with high quality coal, emission results and ash fouling behavior, using CB as reburn fuel for NOx and Hg reduction, gasification of fuels to produce low quality gases, modeling of reburn, pilot scale test results, synthesis of engineering characterization, geographical mapping, a transportation cost study to determine potential handling and transportation systems for co-firing with coal at regional coal-fired power plants, software analyses for the design of off-site manure, pre-processing and storage systems for a typical dairy farm or beef cattle feedlot, recursive production functions/systems models for both cattle feedlots, systems modeling, stocks and flows of energy involved in the CAFO system, feedback from an Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) to the investigators on project direction and task emphasis and economics of using CB as cofiring and reburn fuel.« less